With fuel costs increasing to monumental heights at the 3rd quarter and slipping down ever so slowly during the last 2 months, car owners and prospective buyers are now looking into a more fuel efficient private vehicle for daily use.

In the past, I go for the looks of the car more than the engine is houses underneath its hood. But taking the practical option, large engine displacements are more often than not gulping gallons for short-distance drives. With Metro Manila’s eternal traffic, the driver can actually see the fuel meter going down despite not accelerating in this so-called “largest parking lot”, EDSA.

It interested me to read an article from the Philippine Inquirer for last month’s DOE Fuel Economy Run that measured the price per kilometer of participating car brands crossing all genre.

The top 10 fuel misers are:
1) Suzuki Alto 0.8L MT Gas – P1.38/km (34 km per liter)
2) Hyundai Getz 1.5L MT Diesel – P1.82/km (25.22 km/liter)
3) Hyundai Accent 1.5L MT Diesel – P1.97/km (23.38 km/liter)
4) Mercedes Benz C-180K 1.8L AT Gas – P2.07/km (22.70km/liter)
5) Toyota Vios 1.3L MT Gas – P2.08/km-(22.67 km/liter)
6) Ford Focus 2.0L MT Diesel – P2.15/km (21.39km/liter)
7) Kia Picanto 1.1 AT Gas – P2.18/km (21.60 km/liter)
8) BMW 320D 2.0L AT Diesel – P2.24/km (20.53 km/liter)
9) Isuzu DMAX Lt 4×2 2.5L MT Diesel – P2.24/km (20.57 km/liter)
10) Isuzu Alterra 4×2 3.0L MT diesel – P2.37/km (19.44 km/liter)

The top 10 gas users are:
1) Volvo XC70 3.2L AT Gas – P4.26/km (11.05 km/liter)
2) Suzuki SGX 1.6 AT Gas – P3.77/km (12.48km/liter)
3) Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4L AT Gas – P3.70/km (12.73 km/liter)
4) Ford Escape 2.3L AT Gas – P3.68/km (12.78 km/liter)
5) BMW X5. 30d 3.0L AT Diesel – P3.65/km (12.60 km/liter)
6) Mitsubishi Montero 3.2L AT Diesel – P3.52/km (13.05 km/liter)
7) Suzuki APV GA 1.6L MT Gas – P3.42/km (13.78km/liter)
8) Ssangyong Stavic 2.7L AT Diesel – P3.33/km (13.82 km/liter)
9) Mitsubishi Lancer EX 2.0L AT Gas – P3.28/km (14.37km/liter)
10) Ford Everest 2.5L AT Diesel – P3.27/km (14.07 km/liter)

Without the above results, I was actually eyeing the 2.4 Mitsubishi Outlander 2WD, the just- released Mitsubishi Montero 3.2 Diesel, 2.0 Honda CRV 2WD or the newly-modified Ford Escape XLS.

From the list, three of the units I am considering to replace my 5 year old SUV are gas guzzlers. Bummer…. Though the CRV did not participate during the run, an ad in today’s braodsheet listed the new CRV to be part of the Top 10 most fuel efficient SUVs in the market. Hmmm, intertesting to note, ain’t it?

Looks- and size-wise, no car in the miser’s list in the list interested me, except for 2 obvious vehicles, the Beemer and the Benz. But price-wise, both are out of my league. Bummer 2…

There are a number of new models coming out within 2009 that’s worth the wait. The new-bodied Honda City (dead-ringer for the Beemer 1 series) comes out during the first quarter. The Toyota Prius Hybrid is said to be released within next year (I saw one yesterday noon!). Hopefully, Mazda brings in Mazda 2 to compete with the Japanese and Korean sub-compacts. I know the Nissan Sentra will have a full body change that looks a bit boxy for me (this is so 80s!).

So is it time to change my ride for 2009? Not yet. I still love my red car. It’s tall, spacious and easy to drive. It has had it’s problems but nothing too serious yet to make me sell it.

If you have…hmmmm…let me see…. PhP 2 million to spare, what car will you buy? And why?